A new handheld wound assessment device developed in Canada is being launched across Europe to help nurses and other clinicians provide more effective care, according to those behind it.
The MolecuLight i:X device uses fluorescent light to produce an image showing the location of bacteria in a wound when the technology is held over it.
“For the first time, clinicians can accurately sample a wound in situ to determine if bacteria are present”
A measurement function is also included in the device, which records the wound’s dimensions, and the tool also takes non-fluorescent photos.
It allows clinicians to assess the size of wounds and take samples of bacteria more accurately – and helps them debride the site more effectively, according to MolecuLight Inc, which developed the technology.
Ordinarily, clinicians assess wounds by eye and by using a ruler, which can be less accurate, said the firm, which noted it also took a couple of days for swab results to be processed to find out if bacteris is present.
Those behind the device, which was trialled in Canada for 18 months, claim it helps reduce the time it takes for chronic wounds to close from an average of 200 days to 22 days.
“The light guides my sampling because I’ll place a swab where the red light is showing, whereas before I’d do it blindly”
They also claim swabbing accuracy improves by just over 50% and that clinicians are less likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotic drugs.
“For the first time clinicians can accurately sample a wound in situ to determine if bacteria are present as well as more effectively debride a wound under fluorescence visualisation,” said Dr Ralph DaCosta, founder and chief scientific officer and director at MolecuLight Inc.
“These are fundamental areas of everyday wound care that have remained suboptimal for too long, until now,” said Dr DaCosta.
Rosemary Hill, a wound, ostomy and continence nurse clinician at Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver, who was involved in the trial, said she had “never used anything like the MolecuLight before” and that it had improved her practice.
“You hold the device about 10cm away from the wound, click a switch, shine a fluorescent light on the wound bed and then if there is a lot of bacteria those areas will ‘light up’,” she said.
“Particular bacteria – such as pseudomonas – shows up as green, while the majority come up as red. You can see, either on the wound bed or around the peri wound bed, the bacteria level,” said Ms Hill.
“You can’t assume bacteria is spread across the wound in an even way, it can be in patches, so the light helps alert you to this,” she said.
“The light guides my sampling because I’ll place a swab where the red light is showing, whereas before I’d do it blindly,” she said. “It also guides my debridement, which I previously might not have carried out if I missed the bacteria.
“I also use the device to check with an infectious disease specialist to see the responsiveness of the wound to any antibiotic therapy,” said Ms Hill.
She noted that it also helped to teach patients about their wound, because you could store photos from the device and show them the effect of treatment.
However, she said using the technology had not replaced her usual approach to practice – such asking the patient about any changes to the wound, and using her own judgement about its colour – and that she viewed it as a way of providing extra information.
She agreed it was likely wounds recovered more quickly as a result of using the device because care was “fine-tuned”, including have more information to decide on which wound dressing to use and how to apply cleansers.
“I also use the device to see the responsiveness of the wound to any antibiotic therap
The only minor drawback was that the room had to be dark to use the handheld tool, she added.
Ms Hill said she believed the new technology could be used in any hospital inpatient setting or outpatient wound care clinics.
MolecuLight i:X is being distributed in Europe by medical technology firm Smith & Nephew.
NHS organisations using the device so far include Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
In addition, North Bristol NHS Trust, Gloucestershire hospitals NHS Trust Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trus,t and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust are using the new tool.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Pennine Acute NHS Trust are also making use of the piece of technology.